HighJump: Leveraging technology to sustain a competitive advantage in the supply chain sector
With customer demands in the supply chain sector evolving on an ongoing basis thanks to digital transformation, companies worldwide are adopting new technologies in a bid to remain a leader in the field.
Specialising in managing supply chain solutions on a global scale, HighJump has integrated its proven solutions for the warehouse, transportation and logistics ecosystem with the help of emerging technologies. Leveraging advanced cloud technology, HighJump enables companies to ride the wave of data to achieve greater efficiency, uncover actionable insights and stay ahead of the curve. Overseeing the sales and operations side on an international scale, David Houser believes his customers have evolved significantly since he first joined the company in 2011. “Technology is changing the world and it has defined the way we operate,” says Houser. “Never in the history of retail have we ever had so much data and real-time information available that we can quickly use to observe the latest trends. It isn’t good enough anymore to plan what the end of this season's apparel might look like when you have the technology and the data to instantly know what tomorrow's fashions will be. It's unbelievable.”
Due to the rapid pace of innovation, companies have less time than ever before to appeal to potential customers and differentiate themselves from their competitors. With a customer-centric approach at the forefront of his company’s strategy, Houser affirms that a clear understanding of customers’ demands is vital. “On average, a customer spends 5 seconds on a vendor’s website before they decide if they’re going to stay there,” he says. “That means there is very limited time for a decision to be made on whether they want to do business with your organisation. It’s critical you get it right.” Deploying the right technology for supply chain solutions could be key to success in the industry. However, Houser affirms that the biggest hurdle to overcome is the issue of interfaces and integrations. “The biggest challenge isn’t just the implementation of a supply chain solution, it also revolves around interfaces and integrations. In this fast-paced technological world,, all technologies aren't created equal. If you do some statistics on how many organisations are still running on a mainframe and on paper, you’d be very surprised.”
Serving around 4,400 customers worldwide and operating in 78 different countries, HighJump is used to working closely with clients to deliver the best service. “We work with some of the largest multi-channel foot apparel organisations in the world. But the question remains: how has technology and digitalisation changed their businesses? These companies make between 55,000 and 80,000 pairs of shoes every day and have built this without the concept of e-commerce,” explains Houser. “They soon began to look for a flexible, adaptable supply chain solution that could deal with their ever-growing hybrid of brick and mortar worldwide. This led to some of the largest shoe companies in the world selecting HighJump to be able to handle that new demand.”
Although unable to predict the future, HighJump prides itself on anticipating change to enable smarter, faster decisions. With Big Data considered acting as a key driver, there is now a greater level of flexibility at users’ fingertips to enable real-time decisions. Houser looks at the ABCD strategy, which he believes will be crucial for the future. “The A stands for artificial, automated and autonomous; through vehicles and warehouses, we’re experiencing a higher level of robotics,” he explains. “B means bigger data. There is a greater level of data pools, lakes and oceans and it’s important that you’re able to harness that data correctly. C underscores the importance of cloud and how it will continue to be the way forward. While finally, D is for device agnostic and the ability to communicate through a range of different devices. I believe that over the next couple of years, ABCD is going to become much more advanced and mature while happening in a time-constrained fashion.”
“It’s important to establish real-time visibility into the supply chain,” concludes Houser. “The younger generation is demanding that these things run anywhere, at any time, on any device, and via the HTML5 technology we have, we have the ability to render that application on whatever device the end consumer would like to see it on.”
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.